Latinos on the rise

There is a tendency, emanating from the West, to lump Latin America together as one, more or less homogeneous block. It seems to work for the US Republican Party's presidential hopeful Donald Trump in any case.

There is a tendency, emanating from the West, to lump Latin America together as one, more or less homogeneous block. It seems to work for the US Republican Party's presidential hopeful Donald Trump in any case.

On the surface, you could argue it makes sense. Brazil excepted, there is a common language, Spanish. In practically all countries here it's those of an 'Old World' descent who are the power brokers while there are indigenous populations struggling to find their place on the margins.

Going on such things, a Latin-American Union would seem to make more sense than a European Union, in theory anyway.

Of course it's never that straightforward; from country to country there are important differences, however slight they seem to an outsider. The nation-state borders here are as strong as you'll find anywhere on the planet.

Be that as it may, Latinos, or Hispanics if you will, are generally treated as one when they find themselves in the Western world, especially in the United States.

Thus, looking at it from that point of view, what is the lot for Latinos at this moment in time in what is very much a 'home from home'?

Well, for one, according to 2013 population estimates there are about 54 million of them in the US. That represents 17 per cent of the States' total population, making Hispanics that nation's largest ethnic or race minority. So by sheer numbers alone, this makes them a force to be reckoned with. For any aspirant president, you rule them out at your peril. Are you listening Mr Trump?

What's more, to label, as Mr Trump did, many Mexicans and other Latino immigrants as criminals and rapists does a disservice to the host of hard-working, honest types who arrive in the country. Many of them sign up to the American way of life with more gusto than those of a Wasp (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) origin.

Indeed, in this way you could make a similarity between both Irish Americans and Jewish Americans in their early days in the country who were often looked upon with suspicion and mistrust, as well as downright hatred, by the USA founding fathers. Through hard work and loyalty to the 'system' they slowly managed to change such an attitude.

Today's Latinos, like many before them, are more likely to bolster the dominant culture in the United States rather than take away from it. Those brought up on Christian values, as the majority of immigrants from Central and South America are, tend to be more compatible with mainstream US life than some other arrivals.

What remains an unknown is when we will see the first Latino-blooded person controlling things in the White House. Considering their growing numbers and influence, it looks set to be sooner rather than later.

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